MORICE (afterwards POYNTZ), John (1568-1618), of Chipping Ongar, Essex and Heneage House, London.

Published in The History of Parliament: the House of Commons 1558-1603, ed. P.W. Hasler, 1981
Available from Boydell and Brewer



Family and Education

bap. 17 Oct. 1568, 1st s. of James Morice. educ. ?Camb.; M. Temple 1586. m. (1) 24 Oct. 1593, Katherine, da. and h. of Sir Gabriel Poyntz of North Ockendon, at least 3s. 2da.; (2) 27 Feb. 1606, Lettice, da. of Edward Fitzgerald, wid. of (Sir) Ambrose Coppinger, s.p. suc. fa. Feb. 1597. Kntd. 22 May 1603.1

Offices Held

Gent. pens. by 1602-1610/13; j.p. and dep. lt. Essex 1613; chamberlain of the Exchequer by 1615.2


Admitted to the Middle Temple without fine because his father was a bencher, Morice may have been educated at Cambridge, where there were two of his name in the early 1580s. He remained at the Middle Temple, in his father’s chambers, for some years, being joined there in 1589 by Anthony Luther, an associate of his future father-in-law, and in 1597, after his father’s death, by his younger brother Henry, who was bound with Luther and an Edward Turner who married the Morices’ sister Anne.3

Before May 1600 Morice left the Middle Temple; he does not appear to have been called to the bar or to have practised as a lawyer. Having inherited most of his father’s property—the manor of Chipping Ongar had been settled on him at his marriage—and with the sure expectation of the manor of North Ockendon which his father-in-law Poyntz (whose family name Morice took) had settled on him and his wife upon the same occasion, it seems that he lived as a country gentleman, emerging to sit in two Parliaments for Appleby, a borough whose Members not infrequently were lawyers and connected, if only tenuously, with the Cliffords, earls of Cumberland. In the case of Morice the link may well have been Lady Elizabeth Russell, the Countess of Cumberland’s sister-in-law. To Lady Elizabeth, Morice’s father was ‘my cousin’, and as she was Lady Burghley’s sister the relationship embraced the Cecils as well: the elder Morice was Burghley’s ‘kinsman and friend’. A request for a parliamentary seat, addressed to Cumberland from such a source, was unlikely to be refused, and the supposition that Lady Elizabeth Russell played a key role in the business is strengthened by the fact that it was also as Member for Appleby that Thomas Posthumous Hoby, her son by a previous marriage, made his parliamentary début. Morice is not known to have played any part in the proceedings of the 1601 Parliament. However, he may have attended a committee concerning the strengthening of the north parts to which the burgesses for Appleby were appointed on 3 Dec.4

The picture of Morice (or Poyntz) which emerges from his undated will, written before he set off for ‘the Spa’ to recover his health, is of a contented, God-fearing man, happy in his possessions and in the affection and fortune of his second wife. Through God’s grace, and by the sale of Dame Lettice’s ‘fair jointure’ and other goods of hers for ‘a great sum of money’, he had acquired lands and goods ‘beyond expectation or any probability in the judgment of man’ and been enabled to meet the expenses of his eldest son’s suits at law and the cost of building at Heneage House (Bevis Marks) in London and at Ockendon. There was £1,000 to his credit in the hands of his ‘brother’ Sir Nicholas Carew, but even so he expected his debts to amount to £1,600, more than his goods and chattels might realise. The deficiency, if any, he charged his eldest son, Sir James Poyntz, to make good, ‘for the honour of his dear father that he be not said to have lived with the reputation of an honest man and died with the report of an unconscionable deceiver’. As he and their grandfather Poyntz had already made provision for the younger sons and daughters, Morice left the bulk of his property to Sir James, together with all his armour and a library—presumably those ‘books of the laws of England’ and other works in Latin, Greek and French bequeathed to him by his own father—which he enjoined Sir James not to sell but to preserve for his posterity. His ‘dear and worthy wife’ he made his sole executrix, hoping it might please God to bless his journey and continue his life so that in short time he would be able to ease her of the burden. He died 31 Jan. 1618.5

Ref Volumes: 1558-1603

Author: E.L.C.M.


  • 1. Vis. Essex (Harl. Soc. xiii), 92, 256; Morant, Essex, i. 103, 129; Crisp, Ongar Par. Reg.; VCH Essex, iv. 161; Lodge, Peerage of Ireland (1789), i. 199; Lysons, Mdx. Parishes, 133.
  • 2. LC2/4/4; APC, 1613-14, pp. 278-9; information from Mr. F. G. Emmison, citing calendar of assize files 1615-17 in Essex RO.
  • 3. M. T. Recs. i. 284, 309, 371, 404.
  • 4. C142/258/74; Jas. Morice’s will, Essex RO, D/AER17, f. 231; and see MORICE, James.
  • 5. PCC 25 Meade and 3 Windebanck; C142/369/148; Morant, Essex, i. 103 and cf. Chamberlain Letters ed. McClure, ii. 136